Sopaland is a strange old place where death is never certain, you can change sex at the drop of a hat, and chances are, your evil twin probably did it. From OTT telenovelas to sitting down with a cup of Earl Grey and a slice of cake in rural England, all soaps have several things in common: You need a hero, a villain, and that all important cliffhanger. Just like the Eastenders "duff duff" sound, soaps keeps us coming back for more week after week.
Australian soap Neighbours has recently hopped on the bandwagon of lunacy, bringing back the long-dead Dee Bliss a mere 13 years after we saw her plunge into the ocean on her wedding day. However, bobbing brides back from the briny is nothing compared to what other shows have in store.
Whether it be cursed jewels, tram crashes, or even the ever-popular baby swap plot, soaps are about as wishy-washy as they get. So, after learning that your world is just a dream in a snow globe, here are 10 of the most ridiculous #soapopera storylines out there (in no particular order):
1. Need Any Help With Your Packing? 'Crossroads'
Starting in 1964, Crossroads was thinly-veiled British soaps at their best, following a Midlands motel taken over by feuding sisters. Wobbly sets, appalling scripting, and more face slaps than a shocked Macaulay Culkin, it was no surprise that the soap fell off air in 1988 due to increasing competition — but Crossroads wasn't done just yet. After being off our screens for 13 years, the show returned in 2001 with decidedly less wobbly sets, but even more insane storylines.
Rebranded as "sexier," the show may have featured soap legends like Kate Mara from Dynasty and Anne Charleston from Neighbours, but it lasted only until 2003 after being bizarrely revamped for a second time in 2002. Under its third incarnation, and knowing the end was nigh, Crossroads seemed to throw together its finale like a child running out of time in an exam. The whole series was seen as the daydream of a rough 'n' ready supermarket checkout girl who had invented her lavish fantasy. The final scenes played out revealing Jane Asher's Angel is actually "Angela," interacting with various "customers" who were all characters from her made up life. Angel eventually returned to scanning broccoli and seemed to forget all memories of her Crossroads life — talk about a fall from grace.
2. The Salem Stalker 'Days Of Our Lives'
Unfortunately, this one doesn't contain Joey Tribbiani, however, Days of Our Lives could be just as ludicrous without crossing over into Friends. After declining ratings in the early 2000's, Days of Our Lives managed to lure back writer James E. Reilly to craft the "Salem Stalker" storyline. This wasn't your standard "kill the supporting cast" murder mystery and the tagline "no one is safe" rang true. Leads like Abe Carver, Jack Deveraux, and the shows (current) longest-running character Maggie Jones all met grisly demises. Alongside being mauled by tigers and falling out of Halloween piñatas, one victim was literally choked to death by donuts (yes, donuts). The killer was eventually revealed to be rogue choice Marlena Evans, but her shooting on top of a prison roof is where the fun really begins.
Again, with even worse ratings, the whole storyline was retconned and every single victim returned to their original roles like nothing had happened; so how did they do it? It turns out that the dead were actually kidnapped prior to their murders and placed on the mysterious island of Melaswen (New Salem backwards) in identical copies of their own homes. Meanwhile, Marlena had been drugged into killing off doppelgängers of our favorites while thinking they were the real deal. The island had a magical force field to prevent their escapes, while the plot had more holes in it than swiss cheese, it unanimously didn't work at all, yet will be remembered as one of the craziest soap stories out there.
3. Ships Ahoy 'Sunset Beach'
Yes, we all know that thanks to Sunset Beach we can no longer look at a turkey baster in the same way, but artificial insemination on Thanksgiving is by no means the show's weirdest outing. How on Earth producers got the 1998 storyline of a capsized cruise liner past the creators of The Poseidon Adventure is beyond me!
Two weeks worth of storylines were combined for a special primetime episode "Shockwave." A nearby earthquake trapped several of the main cast in perilous situations on the island, but those away from Sunset Beach were far from safe. A tsunami wave caused the S.S. Neptune II to overturn and trap key cast members at various points of marriage proposals and heated arguments. The events led to a daring escape from the bottom of the ship just before the whole thing blew up — someone should definitely have a copyright issue on their hands.
4. Can You Feel The Spark? 'Desperate Housewives'
Marc Cherry's Stepford Wives homage puts the camp in happy campers. With more adultery and murder than your average cul-de-sac, Wisteria Lane's mysteries unravelled over eight seasons. If tornados, plane crashes, and hostage situations weren't your boat, there was of course always Edie Britt to brighten your day. Blonde bombshell Edie left the lane in Season 4 amidst a whirlwind of scandal, only to return a handful of episodes later thanks to that handy five-year time-jump. With her spooky albino-esque husband in tow, Edie's life soon began to fall apart once more.
After discovering her husband's dark past, it looked like Edie would be strangled to death in a fitting homage to her attempted hanging in Season 3. Escaping last minute to reveal the truth, and in a road safety warning to not use your phone, Edie was distracted and crashed her car just before leaving the lane. Even that couldn't off our plucky cougar, but a downed power line finally zapped the life out of her. Classic Edie, dying as the center of attention with the whole lane to witness her demise. Sadly, it was in fact actress Nicollette Sheridan's off-screen arguments with Cherry that gave Edie the axe.
5. 'Shower' Bout That? 'Dallas'
Probably the most famous twist out in Soapland is the resolution/resurrection of the Bobby Ewing storyline from Dallas. The story of rich Texans warring over oil could only handle so much horseback riding, so Season 7 rounded off with the bold decision to kill Patrick Duffy's Bobby Ewing. It was sure to shake-up the ratings, but what if producers realized that they had just killed off one of the show's most marketable characters?
When Bobby's sister-in-law decided to mow him down in a scorned lover storyline, more than 300 million viewers in 80 nations wept as Bobby (very really) passed away in the hospital. A year later it was all revealed as the dream of Bobby's ex-wife Pam and we were left with one hell of a cliffhanger. A whole season's worth of storylines were forgotten: Pam's next marriage, a dead baby plot, and the death of bomb victim Jamie Ewing Barnes. The show Knots Landing was also badly affected; Ewing served as a crossover character and his death was instrumental to their continuing storylines. Landing refused to accept the return plotline and no further crossovers, or mention of Bobby Ewing, every happened again. However, it was Dallas that bore the brunt of the criticism and the show would never recover from "The Dream Season."
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6. U.F.Oh My God 'Hollyoaks'
For a soap that centers around of one of the UK's smallest cities (believe me, I used to live there), Hollyoaks sure has a lot of death. According to the soap, Chester has no shortage of serial killers; however, it is an out of this world plot for which the Channel 4 soap will be remembered. When alien-obsessed Elliot arrived in 2007, no one thought that the show would manage to weave in the story of a real-life alien hiding in Chester.
Elliot befriended new arrival Kevin, who attempted to convince him that he was a bona fide alien from outer space. Elliot was miffed when he discovered Kevin's birth certificate and that he was abandoned as a baby, but the joke's on him. After discovering a new planet, Elliot is offered a job by NASA (really) and leaves the village to pursue his dream.
7. No Use Crying Over Spilt Milk 'Neighbours'
What would Neighbours be without Susan and Carl? A storyline stemming back to 2002 sees the placid doctor's wife slip on spilt milk, only to wake up with retrograde amnesia, thinking she is in 1972. Unsurprisingly Susan didn't warm to the stuffy Dr. Kennedy and soon attempted to run away in search of her old boyfriend.
Obviously Susan and Carl would grow closer together over time, and her memory returned just in time for the pair to renew their wedding vows — awww, young love. The story gets weirder though; Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne told Elle UK that Susan and Carl taught him everything he knows about acting and are "the greatest unsung acting duo in history. Watch, and you’ll find that everything they do is on another level of genius. I really do think so." OK Eddie. However, Susan's amnesia still doesn't end there. Given the recent Dee Bliss storyline, Susan isn't so convinced by Dee's story that she too is suffering with amnesia — only time will tell whether Dee is actually an imposter!
8. Freezing To Death 'Coronation Street'
As the UK's longest-running soap, Coronation Street has had some wild plots in its 57-year run. The show saw a man killed by a slow-moving tram in Blackpool, made a legend out of serial killer "Tricky Dicky" Hillman, and explosively bowed out its 50th anniversary with a tram crash. However, aside from its more believable plots came one of the campest villains to enter soapdom: Anne Malone. The "frosty" character played your archetypal unhinged psycho from 1995 to 1988 and gets one of the soap's most out-there farewells.
As the vindictive supervisor of a frozen food supermarket (this is a real UK job), Malone tried to frame her long-term crush Curly Watts by poisoning a batch of fish fingers with WD-40. A hapless security guard locked Anne in the deep freeze overnight and her frozen corpse was later discovered. Talk about giving someone the cold shoulder.
9. Look At The Flowers 'Eastenders'
Long before The Walking Dead's Carol got the idea of using flowers to hide a grisly act, Eastenders was ahead of the game. After being pursued by a group of assassins known as "The Firm," Dirty Den Watts was gunned down by a happy couple and an inconspicuous gun barrel poking out a bunch of daffodils.
Being killed by flowers was bad enough, but Eastenders completely de-railed when Den was miraculously brought back to Albert Square some 14 years later. Turning up with his trademark "Hello Princess," 16 million people watched Den's return, while he didn't waste much time stirring trouble. Actor Leslie Grantham was soon caught in an internet sex scandal, and although he denies that this was the reason for his character's second offing, Den was coincidentally killed off for a final time. Confronted by the three women he had caused misery to, Den had his head bashed in at his precious Queen Vic pub and his body buried in the newly cemented cellar.
10. It's Snow Joke 'St. Elsewhere'
It just wouldn't be insane enough without mentioning NBC's St. Elsewhere. 1988 saw the end of St. Elsewhere after 137 episodes of Cheers crossovers and trips to hell. A controversial finale, and parodied everywhere ever since, the last episode of the cult medical drama featured the reveal that the whole story was (apparently) in the imagination of autistic Tommy Westphall.
As Tommy shook a snow globe, the camera zoomed to reveal a model of St. Eligius hospital inside as the snow falls around it. The show was always a little crazy, known as the Twin Peaks of hospitals, but viewers found themselves shouting "WTF!" at the finale. To this day, creators have remained quiet on how we should interpret the final scene, but the popular theory of the Tommy Westphall universe still stands. If you do the math, and due to the amount of crossovers and spin-offs in television, something like 90% of all #TV shows exist inside the young boy's mind. Not only downright crazy, but one of the creepiest endings to a show ever!
Put down the revolver and step away from your mother's long-dead twin, the transgender zombie detective will be here in a minute to take you to hell and all the soap craziness is over. While it may seem ridiculous, there is no denying that a good crazy soap plot can sure bring in the big numbers, and any of the above is better than The Sopranos and that ambiguous cut-to-black finale — thanks a lot HBO, thanks a lot. Now we just need to see how #PrisonBreak brings back Michael Schofield from the grave when it returns for Season 5!
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